Re: Scripture and Divine Sovereignty (was Brainlessness...)

From: Dr. Blake Nelson (
Date: Fri May 31 2002 - 07:24:44 EDT

  • Next message: Walter Hicks: "Re: Frustrations (was Re: Randomness)"

    Just a couple quick points since I have to go out of
    town this afternoon.

    I appreciate the expression and clarification of one
    strand of Calvinism. I am aware of it and find it one
    prayerfully considered and thought out exegetical
    gloss. The parts that I am suggesting should not be
    overly stressed (although I am also not asserting that
    they are a priori incorrect either) are not creedal.
    They are a denominational difference that is rejected
    by other denominations (I will resist using GK
    Chesterton's famous quote about Calvinism). I am not
    saying that this is not a viable perspective. I am
    simply saying that rejecting it is not heretical and
    that for some people there are profound problems with
    the approach of hardline Calvinism.

    As to the NT documents being in widespread repute
    among the early church, this is absolutely true, but
    so were Clement's epistles and the Shepard of Hermas
    and at least another dozen documents that were
    regarded by many in the early church more highly than
    some of the documents that were made canonical. So,
    your argument only goes so far in this regard and my
    point is that the early Church used a variety of
    criteria to try to sort out what was to be canonical.
    The did not, in setting the canon, adopt the
    understanding that the Westminster Chatechism adopts.
    In fact, Roman Catholicism, the Eastern Orthodox, and
    the Anabaptist traditions (not to mention
    non-Calvinist Protestant denominations) all reject it
    to one degree or another for different reasons. Those
    reasons are viable reasons and we can broadly discuss
    these exegetical perspectives without necessarily
    being liberal or conservative. Eastern Orthodoxy, for
    example, is very conservative in many ways, but
    rejects sola scriptura strongly and rejects a
    Calvinistic determinism. What Jim doesn't indicate he
    realizes is that Christianity has an expansive
    tradition that does not demand one exegetical gloss
    over another.

    My point is not to attack the theology of particular
    denominations, but to defend the legitimate basis for
    some theological diversity (although I hate to use
    that word). It is also to merely point out that the
    differences some people tout as the only correct
    approach are only one approach out of several. To use
    Calvinism as an example (not to pick on it), the
    majority of Christian traditions clearly and
    categorically reject limited atonement in its hard,
    Calvinist form (this is not an attempt to debate the
    doctrine of limited atonement, only to make a brief
    point). Likewise, most traditions reject a hardline
    version of Calvinistic determinism. This does not
    mean that Calvinists are necessarily wrong, it is due
    to differences in interpretations of the Bible. The
    fact of different exegetical traditions, none of which
    are necessarily heretical, indicates the great
    complexity in interpretation. This continues to be
    the point that often gets buried.

    Thanks again for the thoughtful response.


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